Monday, September 17, 2018

Keralicious - Delicious

Authentic naadan chicken curry with mouth watering Malabar parotta is a delightful indulgence of a gourmet seeking bliss in Kerala food outside Kerala. 

New Delhi/NCR despite its huge Malayalee population has always missed out an eating joint that could serve that perfect  blend of authentic cuisine. Keralicious is a new venture in the business of serving authentic kerala style cuisine in NCR today. 

Compact and cozy, the eatery at Gurugram has surprise in store for anyone seeking instant Nirvana in typically malayalee food spread. 

Located at Supermart I, Gurugram Phase IV, Keralicious has its linkages with Zomato and local food delivery service operators. Price has been kept low to enable foodies to feast on an extensive fare which can also be ordered online too.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

65th National Film Awards

National Film Awards have been announced.  Of all the film producing states,  Mollywood (a sobriquet for the Malayalam Film Industry) has bagged a number of awards this year.  The awards include Best Film on Social Issues to Aalorukkam produced by Jolly Lonappan and directed by V. C. Abhilash, Best Direction award to Jayaraj for the film Bhayanakam, the film also gets the award for best Cinematography (Cameraman: Nikhil S Praveen), Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum is the best Malayalam Film this year.   The film has bagged the best supporting actor award to Fahad Fazil and also the best Screenplay (original) award to Sajeev Pazhoor. Best Playback singer award this year goes to legendary K. J. Yesudas for the song Poy Maranja Kalam in the Film Viswapoovarnam Mansoor.  Award for best production has been announced for Santosh Raman’s  ‘Take off’ for which actress Parvathy Menon has been given a Special Mention award by the Jury headed by veteran film director Shekhar Kapoor.

    Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum

    Fahad Fazil

Actor director Fahad Fazil who is the son of legendary malayalam Film director Fazil started his film career as a teenager in his father’s film Kaiyethum Dorrathu. He later featured in Kerala CafĂ© an anthology to the earlier film after a gap of nine years as the first film failed at box office.  Fahad won public attention in the film Chappa Kurishu which was produced in the year 2011.  He won his first state award for his performance in the film.   Through his powerful screen presence Fahad received critical acclaim for his performances in 22 Female Kottayam and Diamond Necklace in the year 2012.  He won his first Filmfare award for his role in 22 Female Kottayam.  
The actor continued his winning streak with number of commercially successful films which included Annayum Rasoolum, Amen, North 24 kaatham, Oru Indian Pranayakatha.   His film Banaglore Days was a runaway success and one of the biggest commercial successes in the Malayalam film industry in recent years.
Fahad produced and starred in the film Aloshy, Iyobinde Pustakam and later his roles in the film Maheshinde Prathikaaram in the year 2016 and Take off catapulted him to a higher pedestal in the film industry.  His role Thondimuthalum and Drikshakshiyum in the year 2017 has caught attention of the National award jury and he has been selected for the best supporting actor in the said film. 

    Parvathy Menon

Parvathy Menon within a decade of her entry into Malayalam films has carved a niche for herself amongst the best new acting talents in the industry.  Parvathy made her debut in the film Out of syllabus.  Her performance in Notebook was noteworthy and she continued her acting career through the films poo (2008), City of God (2011), Maryan (2013), Bangalore days (2014), Uttama Villian (2015), Ennu Ninte Moideen (2015), Charlie (2015) and Take off (2017), a film that has made her win the IFFI best actor award (female) at the 48th International Film Festival.  She has now been selected for the Jury Special Mention for her role in the Film Take Off for the 65th National Film Awards for 2017.

List of some other films that have won the National Awards

Best feature Film - Village Rockstars produced and directed by Rima Das Language: Assamese

Debut Director: Pampally in the Jasari Film (From Lakshadweep) titled Sinjar

Best Popular Film: Baahubali - The conclusion Producer Prasad Devineni Director: SS Rajamouli

Nargis Dutt Award for best feature film for National Integration:  Dhappa in Marathi

Best Film on social issues: Aaalorukkam (Malayalam) produced by Jolly Lonappan

Best Film on Environment: Irada (Hindi) produced by IRADA

Best Children's Film: Mhorkya (Marathi)

Best Actor: Nagarkirtan (Bengali), Actor: Riddhi Sen

Best Accretress: Mom (Hindi), Late Sridevi

Best supporting Actor: Fahad Fazil (Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum)

Best supporting Actress: Divya Dutta (Irada: Hindi)

Best Child artist: Bhanita Das for Village Rockstars

Best Male Play back singer: K. J. Yesudas for the song Poy Maranja Kalam

Best Female singer: Shashaa Tirupati  for the song Vaan

Best Cinematography: Bhayanakam Cameraman Nilkhil S Praveen

Best Screen play: Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum Screen play: Sajeev Pazhoor

Best Screenplay writer (adapted): Bhayanakam Jayaraj

Best Dialogus: Hello Arsi (Odia)

Best Audiography: location sound: Village Rockstars (Mallika Das)

Best Sound designer: Sanal George (Walking with thel wind)

Best re recordist of the final mixed track : Justin A Jose (Walking with the wind)

Best Editing: Rima Das (Village Rockstars)

Best Production design:  Take off (Santosh Raman)

Best Costume designer: Gobinda Mandal for Nagarkirtan

Best Make up artist:  Ram Rajjak, Nagarkirtan

Best Music Direction and background music: A. R. Rahman for Kaatgru Veliydai

Best Lyrics: March 22 song: Muthuratna by J M Prahalad

Special Jury award:  for Nagarkirtan

Best Special Effects:  Baahubali - the conclusion ( R. C. Kamalakannan)

Best Choreography:  Ganesh Achrya for Toilet ek prem Katha

Best Action Direction:  Baahubali - 2 (King Solomon, Lee Whitaker and Kecha Khamphakdee)

Special Mention:  Pankaj Tripathi for Newton

Special Mention: Parvathy for Take off

Special Mention: Prakruti Mishra for Hello Arsi

Special Mention: Yashraj Karhade for Mhorkya

Best Bengali Film: Mayurakshi produced by Firdausul Hasan Director: Attanu Ghosh

Best Assamese Film: Ishu produced by Children's film society, India

Best Hindi Film: Newton produced by Manish Mundra

Best Kannada Film: Hebbettu Ramakka produced by Putta Raju SA

Best Malayalam Film: Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum by Dileesh Pothan

Best Marathi Film: Kachcha Limbu by Prasad Oak

Best Odiya Film: Hello Arsi by Sambit Mohanty

Best Tamil Film: To Let by Chezhiyan

Best Telugu Film:  Ghazi by Sankalp

Best Gujarati Film: Dhh by Manish Sanini

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Bamboo is the textile of future

‘To preserve India’s endangered crafts heritage, the obvious solution is to ensure markets’
- Madhu Jain

Madhu Jain is a craft revivalist and textile conservationist. Her forte lies in developing textiles in distinctive combinations of variant weaving traditions for creation of new textiles that are high on quality and design. Today she is recognised for her dedication towards the handloom sector. Her work in revitalizing and reinvigorating dying crafts has won her wide appreciation and international recognition.  Her Bamboo silk IKAT weave is the first of its kind in the world.  She has notably indicated Bamboo as the textile of future.

Madhu Jain launched her career in 1987 with a mission to revive the Indian handlooms sector to further the cause of swadeshi.  Her contribution has been in serving the twin functions of adding to the nature fibres and textiles by revitalizing the handlooms industry and assuring livelihoods to the artisans segment.  She did this by combining distinctive combinations of different weaving traditions from two states or regions thus coming out with quality textiles in association with Master weavers.
As an authority on finer aspects of textile crafting, Madhu introduced bamboo as an alternate eco-friendly textile and after putting in 15 years of Research and development, she came out with Bamboo Silk Ikat which is entirely a new kind of textile that is being hailed as the Textile of future.

India with a rich 2000 year old tradition in textiles is unique in many ways.  While designs, patterns and fabrics continuously evolved in various regions through history, innovations and weaving techniques have undergone various changes over the years. Madhu Jain as a specialist in creation of new weaves has experimented with Ikat from Odisha, Kalamkari from Andhra Pradesh/Telengana, Mekhla Chaddar from Assam and Andhra Uppada.  She was excelled in figurative Kalamkari which has been accomplished by incorporation of new features in the traditional craft by use of influences such as Raja Ravi Varma paintings. Madhu also specialises in creation of new weaves and textiles which are organic and hand woven. 

India being the second largest bamboo producing country in the world has a big scope in terms of tapping this material as a sustainable and eco-friendly textile material for the future. Madhu’s passion for eco-friendly bio-degradable textiles has led her to introduce Bamboo as an alternative textile in India.  Moreover, the bio-degradable element of bamboo and its ability to leave negligible ecological footprint as compared to factory manufactured textiles is UV protective and has proven anti bacterial properties. This concept was first demonstrated and introduced in the year 2003 at the 7th World Bamboo Congress.  Thereafter various experiments and fusions have been done with its integration with Khadi, cotton, chanderi and wool.  Today Madhu has refined the bamboo-yarn to precision and has succeeded in infusing it with silk ikat blend which is a first in the history of textiles.

Madhu’s efforts have also been directed at reviving traditions through sustained support for weaver livelihoods.  Towards this she has painstakingly worked with NGOs and SHGs in rural areas for ensuring markets for skills that are passed on through generation of cultural linkages and inheritances.  Madhu’s efforts at popularising traditional textiles have brought about a 500% growth in the Kalamkari sector.  Her interventions have also altered the landscape and supply chain of traditional textiles that could alleviate the problems of the artisans by insulating them from vagaries of fashion industry markets by ensuring steady volumes of work to the artisans.

Madhu Jain launched her first fashion label in 1987 to revive handlooms sector and thereafter she worked with BRAC Bangladesh for next two years in reviving Nakshi Kantha and reintroducing Dhaka Musin which has disappeared from India after partition.  Her works were showcased in Ms. World Pageant at Seychelles in 1997 where she had dressed up 15 contestants.  In 2000 Madhu became the Associate Designer Member of Fashion Design Council of India.  She launched Project M with noted film celebrity Milind Soman to take traditional Indian textiles onto the world stage.  This was made possible with her Kalamkari collection at Singapore Fashion Week. In 2004 she introduced bamboo based textiles at the 7th World Bamboo Congress and later in 2005 embarked on Kashmir Project to restore lifelines of local artisans by sourcing, developing, marketing and popularising Kashmiri design in Kashimri handicrafts which were later presented to four leading museums in New York.  Madhu then became Member, Culture Committee, South Asia Foundation that promotes understanding between SAARC nations through crafts and culture.  She has also won several awards and recognitions including Women of excellence FICCI FLO, Rajiv Gandhi Excellence award, India Eye International Human Rights Observers Women achiever award for her dedicated and distinguished work in promotion of indigenous forms of textile weaving and designing.
Madhu Jain has now been conferred the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar, the highest civilian honour for women for the year 2017.

[Government of India confers Nari Shakti Puraskar, the Highest Civilian Honour for Women in India on International Women's Day to acknowledge and recognize the services of individuals and institutions who make lasting contribution to women's empowerment. These awards are an effort to recognize role models who act as torch bearers for the younger generation and catalysts of change in the lives of women and society at large.]


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Niketa's Paintings

Niketa Fazal is a Nairobi based artist whose paintings evoke a sense of calm and deep introspection towards life and environment. An artist whose commitment towards environment seems as deep as her cultural roots, Niketa’s canvases have a soothing and therapeutic effect on the onlooker.
Having studied Graphic Design in Birmingham, Niketa has been an Art Director for ten years.  She has her BFA from Kenyatta University and is now involved full time in art and painting.
 Niketa’s paintings are mostly representational covering divergent themes spanning Nature, People and Urban development.  Her work has been showcased at several exhibitions including at UN Recreation Centre, Nairobi, ISK Nairobi besides innumerable pop-up shows at private residences.

According to Niketa:

I enjoy portraying moments in time, that have been part of my life experience in my art. 
The ‘endangered animals’ series features animals found in the Nairobi National Park and my aim was to raise awareness about their shrinking environment due to increased urbanisation and development.
The medium is acrylics, candy coloured abstract backgrounds are created from complementary and contrasting colors which also form the bodies of the animal that appear to be camaflouged within the painting.
My paintings reflect my ongoing obsession with layers and what lies beneath. Rich tactile layers of paint and texture overlap and interact building a complex terrain with the aim of encouraging observation of our thoughts and actions.
They are metaphors for the unconscious mind as it processes an infinite stream of information, ideas, experiences and feelings when faced with a topic.

My take:
Niketa is an extremely talented artist whose emotional connect to her work transcends beyond the borders of physical existence. Her paintings are like gasps of breath that gives life to her canvases.  
A collection of paintings depicting wild life, her canvases represented to me a careful effort to display an innate peace of nature that get reflected her choice of colours.  Earthly shades of brown, white, cream with sprinkle of red in between carefully merge into backgrounds on her canvases that are representative of serenity and peace.
I was provided an opportunity to see her paintings at the residence of Ms.Sapna (her close friend), an excellent host who treated me with a handpicked collection of gourmet ‘petha’ filled with caramelized milk concoction of sugar. My sincere thanks to Kalpa my lovely friend from Nairobi who recommended me to the pop-up painting exhibition of Niketa held in New Delhi.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Economic Survey 2018 Highlights and concerns

Economic Survey 2018
(Highlights and concerns)

1. Large increase in registered indirect and direct taxpayers.
 Dilly dallying rate of taxes according to whims and fancies of respective industries has in actuality lead to much less collections than anticipated.

2. Formal non-agricultural payroll much greater than believed.
Indian agriculture reeling under reduction in net land area under staple crop cultivation, farmer suicides and adverse weather conditions leading to huge losses has majority of farm labour which is casual and unregistered. Instead of focusing on agricultural payroll the term has been twisted to non-agricultural payroll!

3. States' prosperity positively correlated with their international and inter-state trade.
Focus has always been capital investments on larger states. Obviously the dividends reaped by such states on account of central investment is bound to reap returns. We should be talking of equitable distribution of wealth among smaller states too!

4. India's firm export structure substantially more egalitarian than in large countries.
In continuation to the earlier point focus has always been richer and larger states. Export structure in India including storage (warehousing), transport and duties need a big overhaul which will dilute the egalitarian regime.

5. Clothing incentive package boosts exports of readymade garments.
On the contrary readymade garment sector has been crying hoarse for the past few quarters of assessment.

6. Parents continue to have children until they get desired number of sons.
This may be true of cow belt states (UP, Bihar, MP, UKD) not south India, north east etc.

7. Substantial avoidable litigation in tax arena.

Litigation shall be the next focus area in the tax sector.

8. To reignite growth, raising investment more important than raising saving.
How does investment be raised in the absence of savings? NPAs in banks has forced financial stimulus, individuals and families are put into debt trap owing to heavy interest rates. Small and medium businesses are reeling under continuous financial stress over the last several quarters then where would the investments come from?

9. Direct tax collections by state/local governments is significantly lower compared with those of their counterparts in other federal countries, according to the Economic Survey.
There are only two direct tax components collected by states as of now i.e taxes on land and stamp duties. In this segment our system is stymed with manipulations in land conversion from agricultural to commercial via various routes. In no way can we compare ourselves to other federal countries. 

10. Extreme weather adversely impacts agricultural yields.
Climate change angle is obviously a cause of huge concern that is not being addressed with sincerity it ought to be dealt with. We are already facing its onslaught.
Takeaway from Economic Survey

1. The bullish market is bound to soften soon.
2. Investments are of concern. With focus on consolidation of nationalised banks and increasing presence of private banks a credible interest rate factor is of immense significance.
3. Exports need to be addressed right earnestly.
4. Oil pool deficit (owing to rising intl prices) is likely to dampen the market enthusiasm further.
5. Unless budget spells out incentives to individuals, families, small businesses etc we shall be sliding into a muck from where a return would be painful.
6. We need an iron hand on economy at the same time the trend of rich and big businesses/corporates getting away with their loot need to be checked right earnestly....
There is so much to write but action is what is needed...

Festival of letters

 #sahityaakademi Festival of Letters Festival is a celebration that is inclusive and brings about a sense of joy in participation, sharing...